Archive for the ‘Creativity’ Category

Antidote for the “not invented here” syndrome

September 28, 2007

Want to discover something or invent something? Discovering or inventing something that is completely new, that no one has ever conceived, is very unlikely (virtually zero probability). You are much more likely to succeed by taking an existing idea and applying it in a novel way.

Below is a quote from the book Hard Facts by Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton. They are talking about the benefits to companies of using old ideas in new ways. However, I think this benefit applies to all of us, not just companies.

I have always (mistakenly) thought that research meant discovering/inventing something totally new. If I were Albert Einstein then perhaps I could do that. Since I’m not, I now realize that a better approach is to expand my learning to many different areas and then apply ideas from other areas to my area of research.

“Creativity is mostly sparked by old ideas. Both major creative leaps and incremental improvements come from fiddling with ideas from other places and blending them in new ways.”

“Better ideas result when people act like nothing is invented here and seek new uses for others’ ideas.”

“Unfortunately, too many companies are plagued by the not invented here syndrome, where people insist on using homegrown ideas, especially ideas that can be ballyhooed as new and different.”

Teasing is a disguised form of shaming…

September 21, 2007

Teasing is a disguised form of shaming.  It stifles creativity and damages people, a hypothesis confirmed by recent experiments.

Orbiting the Giant Hairball by Gordon MacKensie

Veneration for Human Creativity and the Power of Ideas

August 6, 2007

“[The plots of the Tom Swift books are:] Tom would get himself into a terrible predicament, in which his fate and that of his friends, and often the rest of the human race, hung in the balance.  Tom would retreat to his basement lab and think about how to solve the problem.  This, then, was the dramatic tension in each book in the series: what ingenious idea would Tom and his friends come up with to save the day?  The moral to these tales was: the right idea has the power to overcome a seemingly overwhelming challenge.”

“[My grandfather had the rare opportunity] to touch with his own hands some original manuscripts of Leonardo da Vinci.  He described the experience with reverence … I was raised with veneration for human creativity and the power of ideas.”

— Ray Kurzwell

Preciseness is Necessary for Creativity

July 1, 2007

Precision makes for clearness of thought, and thence for boldness of thought and for fertility in trying new combinations of ideas.

When initial thoughts are vague and slipshod, at every subsequent state of thought common sense has to step in to limit applications and to explain meanings.

In creative thought common sense is a bad master. Its sole criteria for judgment is that the new ideas shall look like the old ones. In other words it can act only by suppressing originality.

   — Alfred Whitehead, An Introduction to Mathematics